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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Salisbury chapter.

It is no secret that the media often manipulates or alters what they put out to their audiences. The media’s alteration of images can have a damaging impact on the minds of youth today. Celebrities who have unknowingly had their bodies altered drastically on a cover of a magazine have spoken out about this issue. Feeling that your body is not worthy of being displayed the way it is will only hinder an individual’s self-esteem. Unfortunately, heavy editing has become the norm in majority publications today.

The above photo is a perfect example of the media’s alteration of photos. A fairly controversial trend in media is “whitewashing.” It is widely known that Gabourey Sidibe is a darker-toned African American woman. However, in the photo, she has a notably lighter skin tone. Various famous figures like Beyoncé and Oprah have been whitewashed for cover photos as well because of this stigma that lighter skin is more attractive. I often see darker toned females wishing they had lighter skin or males commenting on how they prefer light-skin females. It’s a grim reality that is hard to combat when the media is everywhere we go.

Altered images also paint an unrealistic view of beauty. Everyone has flaws, but these imperfections are nowhere to be found in altered images. A woman on a magazine cover with thin thighs, an exaggerated small waist and an enhanced chest can be detrimental to the minds of the millions seeing this image. Women and men will compare themselves and other females to these fake images, and the same applies to men on magazine covers. Men that don’t have abs and a V shape exactly like the models on the cover begin to think lowly of themselves. This is often how people develop eating disorders and the desire to endure plastic surgery. When will powerful companies realize the impact their messages have on our society?